“There’s more beauty in truth, even if it is dreadful beauty.”
– John Steinbeck, East of Eden
(Chicago) Whitney Bedford’s new landscape paintings combine static and fluid energies that challenge perception while revealing the effect of the sublime by consistently recalibrating the eye. The application of distinct media, ink and oil paint, appears both within, and on top of the surface of the painting’s structure, creating an optic sensation that mimics nature’s perpetually transformative relationship to its own surroundings. These paintings, presented in concert as a suite of imagery, reduce the gallery walls to simple support structures that, in turn, emphasize the rationality of nature’s chaotic beauty.
As a point of inspiration, Bedford has taken to Edmund Burke’s 1757 treatise, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful, to explore the tension that exists between the beautiful (calmness and clarity) and the sublime (astonishment, fear and terror). The tenacity of the compositions on view are relatable to that never-quite-attainable place called “ Eden”, while simultaneously eliciting a metaphorical exploration of Bedford’s life on the West Coast.
East of Eden includes a series of intimately sized desert landscapes and an additional group of monumentally-scaled paintings executed in ink with the artist’s signature-attention to detail and deft of hand.